How to Run a Contest on Facebook in 2018

Running contests on your social media platforms not only can bring you additional followers, but it can also bring more traffic to your website, plus who doesn’t love winning free stuff? Social media has been evolving rapidly over the last year and with it, so have its rules, regulations, and privacy policies. There’s a lot you need to know about how to properly (and legally) run a contest on your social media platforms in 2018. We’ll be breaking down the rules starting with Facebook so that you can feel confident about running your next social media contest.


Where to Start

The best place to start is to figure out what you want to run and what you will be giving away. We’ve all heard the words contest, sweepstakes, promotions, and giveaways but that does not mean that they are interchangeable. The first step is to decide which you would like to run. A sweepstake or giveaway is when a user can win a prize based solely on chance. This means they do not have to purchase anything, pay to submit, or any other consideration* to be potentially selected as the winner. Running a contest, however, requires either a specific effort, skill or merit to enter to win a prize. This means the user must post a photo, video, or another form on content in order to submit for the chance to win. Selecting the winner, however, can be based at random, by voting or by judges. Promotion refers to the general campaign you are running whether it be a sweepstakes/giveaway or contest.

** Note that “consideration” is anything of value a person must give up in order to participate. Some states have determined that providing contact information, which could be used for marketing purposes, is a consideration. (via Social Media Today)


Running a Contest on Facebook vs. Your Website

Facebook has fallen victim to the harsh realities of extreme vulnerability in the current digital landscape. In reaction to this year’s data breach, Facebook has buckled down on its privacy policies in order to further protect its users. That being said, running any type of promotion on Facebook now has dramatically changed. So much so that most experts recommend not running one on the platform at all. Instead, they recommend you run and host it on your own website and reserve Facebook strictly for promoting the direct link to your contest on your website. Now, this may seem a bit extreme to some but it is surely a way to completely avoid the worry of incorrectly hosting a Facebook promotion that violates their policies.

Here are a few guidelines from Social Media Today to keep in mind when you host a contest on your own website:

  • Clearly state that your contest is in no way affiliated with and completely independent of Facebook. Recommended verbiage for your post or contest submission form: “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook.”
  • Include detailed rules for your contest on the landing page. Recommended official rules verbiage can include:
  • No purchase necessary. Requiring a purchase in order to enter your contest would make it a lottery which is illegal.
  • Purchase does not enhance the chance of winning
  • Void where prohibited. Stating this allows you to avoid awarding the prize to someone who cannot win based on restrictions imposed where they live.
  • Details regarding non-monetary consideration
  • The identity of the host/promotion
  • Entry procedures, beginning/ending times of entry including time of day and time zone
  • Eligibility requirements. If your contest has certain restrictions such as age requirement or residency, include these specifics.
  • An explanation of all methods of entry
  • A clear description of the prize(s). In the U.S., some states have strict regulations regarding prize description. Be sure you’re familiar with them.
  • Date that the winner(s) will be chosen
  • Judging criteria should be clear and the sponsor should be able to show how the winner was determined based on objective criteria. If you spell out, in advance, how the winner will be chosen, people are less likely to accuse you of giving preferential consideration.
  • Method of selecting a winner. To avoid any appearance of impropriety, it is recommended that sponsors avoid conducting their own drawings or determining the winners of their contests.
  • Publicity rights regarding the use of Participant’s information and content. Sponsor should obtain written consent from Entrant to ensure compliance with state laws.
  • Explicit permission from users regarding use of any user-generated content (UGC) they create in order to enter your contest. If you plan to use UGC on your website or in other marketing materials secure rights and keep a record of users’ permission.
  • Liability limitations
  • Odds of winning
  • Your physical address

If you want to refrain from hosting the contest on your website and prefer to run it directly on Facebook, there are a few key rules to keep in mind (directly from Facebook Policies):

  • If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
    – The official rules;
    – Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
    – Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals).
  • Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
    – A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant;
    – Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.
  • Promotions may be administered on Pages, Groups, Events, or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries”, and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted).
  • Facebook will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.

So there you have it! We know it seems like a lot, but Facebook has probably the most guidelines to follow when it comes to promoting a contest on their platform. Stay tuned in the following weeks as we break down the rules for Instagram and Twitter.


Sources: Social Media Today, Facebook

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